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Boeing says AI can redeploy all Dreamliners this month

Last Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 - 21:34

Mumbai: Boeing Friday said it will ready the remaining four grounded Dreamliners of Air India within this month and also deliver the seventh 787 to the national carrier by end of the month.

After grounding all the six Dreamliners on January 17, Air India on Wednesday put two Dreamliners back into operations on the Delhi-Bangalore and Delhi-Kolkata sectors.

The remaining four are under repair at the hangar here.

"As many as 40 Boeing personnel are working overtime to ready the remaining four Dreamliners of Air India. AI could restart operations of these planes within this month itself. We are doing retrofitting of the lithium-ion batteries at our cost," Boeing senior vice-president Dinesh Keskar told reporters here.

Keskar also said the Seattle-based Boeing "will be delivering the seventh Dreamliner (Boeing 787) to AI later this month, while delivery of the remaining 20 will take place as committed by the end of 2016."

"We are confident that the 787s are safe and we stand behind their overall integrity," Keskar said.

Talking about additional safety measures the company is introducing, he said Boeing is ensacing the lithium-oin battery in a thick stainless steel casket, weighing 75 kg, so that if at all any overheating occurs, smoke/fire will not go into the cockpit as was the case earlier.

Besides, each cell in the battery is also wrapped with electric-neutral tapes, Keskar said, adding that the pilot can watch any change in battery performance real-time on a screen.

After All Nipon Airlines of Japan, the first customer of Boeing Dreamliners, reported battery overheating and fire in two of its aircraft in early January, Air India had grounded all six Dreamliners on January 17 though no fire/ smoke was reported.

When asked whether the additional weight will impact fuel efficiency, Keskar said the new safety fitting will add 150 pounds to the overall weight of 50,000 tonne aircraft at full payload and impact on fuel efficiency would be minimal.

AI took delivery of first of the 27 Dreamliners in November after over three years of delay. The Boeing 787s or Dreamliners, claims to burn 20 per cent less fuel, leading to considerable savings on operational costs for airlines.

After Air India, the Ethiopian and Qatar Airways will resume 787 operations by this weekend, and the United Airlines of the US next week and All Nippon next month, Keskar said.

First Published: Friday, May 17, 2013 - 21:34
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